In Pakistan, politicians have an uncanny knack for rubbing egg all over their face and then calling the kettle black. Once again, social media is abuzz with a clip of a senior politician scuffling with another. In this instance, it is the familiar face of Firdous Ashiq Awan from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf as she scuffled and ultimately slapped Pakistan Peoples Party MNA Qadir Khan Mandokhail. The scuffle came at the end of a TV talk show that left its topic and agenda in the dust for verbal jousts between the two.
Such incidents — whether live on air or off the air — are not uncommon. In fact, Awan is a repeat offender, having also recently scuffled with a Sialkot Assistant Commissioner, and long before that with then MNA Kashmala Tariq. All these incidents do is convey the lack of respect among our ruling polity and this is the most dangerous sign of all. If comments of others on your performance anger you enough to launch a verbal tirade or even a physical attack, you have already lost out on space for creating a conducive atmosphere for democracy to flourish.
Lawmaking, which is what both Mandokhail and Awan have been associated with the longest in their political careers, cannot be achieved by lending a patient ear to those who are sitting on the other side of the aisle. Collaboration is how politics works, not the other way around. Indeed, all such incidents do is further erode public trust in these personalities and perhaps even the system. Unfortunately for our politicians, their only takeaway from such incidents has been that this is what causes them to become viral and thus the talk of the town — however short and fleeting that (in)fame may last. This is something that PEMRA sanctions on television channels will not resolve as they will find other ways to become viral.
It is binding on our politicians, many of whom act as our representatives to the world at large, to do so in all respects. To do so effectively, they should know what is the proper way to respond to critics and to behave on public forums — whether the cameras are rolling or not.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 13h, 2021.
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